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New Zealand PM orders mine tragedy inquiry

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New Zealand PM orders mine tragedy inquiry


The New Zealand government has ordered an independent commission of inquiry into the country’s mining disaster.

A total of 29 men are presumed dead after two explosions hit a coal mine near Greymouth in the South Island.

Families want to know why dangerous gas levels were not detected before the tragedy struck, and questions have been raised about the decision not to enter the mine straight after a first explosion.

The Prime Minisiter of New Zealand, John Key, said: “There are some basic questions that need to be answered. What caused the explosion? What could have been done to prevent that? Did we run the rescue effort … the way we should? It is my belief that we did, but of course for the fullness of the inquiry, it needs to be tested and the wider issues that you (the media) raised is about the conditions here.”

Neville Rockhouse worked in the mine along with his two sons; one is presumed dead, but another managed to escape after the first blast.

“I’ve lost a beautiful boy, I’ve lost a son,” he said. “I am thankful that God gave me my other son back.”

A massive blast on Wednesday came five days after the men were caught underground by a first explosion. High gas levels prevented rescue teams from entering the mine.

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